JPMorgan Chase offers a variety of checking account options, from accounts for students to the high-tier Premier Platinum Checking. Total Checking is their mid-level Checking account. When comparing to other banking options, there are a number of factors that make this account appealing, and a few that might make you want to look elsewhere. We’ll start with the basics.

Chase Total Account Opening Bonus

Throughout the last several years, Chase has offered from 100 to 200 dollars for opening a checking account. The terms vary, but it generally requires you depositing some initial amount (the most recent iteration was $100; a $25 deposit is required to open an account), and then setting up a direct deposit. Ten business days later, and the bonus gets deposited in your Total Checking account. If you’re in need of an account and the deal is at 200 dollars, this can be a strong incentive, but keep in mind that other banks (e.g., PNC) offer similar deals throughout the year, and depending on the type of banking that you do, that 200 dollars might get eaten up in fees.


Chase Total Checking Monthly Fees

Total Checking has a $12 monthly fee ($10 in CA, OR, or WA), which is comparable to accounts with banks of its size (e.g., Bank of America, $14; Citibank, $10). Like nearly all basic checking accounts with other large banks, the monthly fee can be waved with either a minimum balance of $1,500, a $5,000 average between multiple accounts, or a direct deposit of at least $500. If you don’t meet any of those conditions, it may make more sense to go with a free checking account offered by a local bank, or credit union, or USAA free checking, or if you’re eligible, a Chase Student Checking account.

Chase Total Account: Online Banking

This is where Chase really shines. Included with your account is QuickDeposit, which allows you to take a picture of a check with your Smartphone or Tablet, and have it deposited into your account. The app takes a photo of each side of your check when the camera is stable enough, and uses text recognition to record the routing and account numbers. There are occasions when the numbers don’t get processed correctly, and you have to input them manually, but it’s still far more convenient than going to a branch. It generally takes a few hours for the checks to process. While convenient, it should be noted that some other banks are doing this, including PNC and Bank of America, and more will be on their way.

Chase also offers QuickPay, which allows you to send payment to someone’s bank account with only his or her email via the Chase mobile app. Although the service is convenient if you don’t want to write a check, it doesn’t quite live up to its name, as it can take days for the payment to process, though that time is shorter in more recent times, and when it’s done between two Chase accounts.

Chase also offers money transfer, bill pay, and wire transfer, comparable to other large banks with a relatively smooth interface both on a desktop or mobile device. E-mail preferences for receiving statements or account updates are easily configurable.

ATMS and Foreign Transactions

Like other large banks (e.g., Bank of America, Citibank, PNC), Chase has a $2 fee for using out-of-network ATMs. If you’re in one of the states that Chase operates in (currently 23), this isn’t a problem as they have almost 20,000 ATMS in the U.S., and 5,600 branches. If you’re outside of one of these states, deposits won’t be a problem with Direct Deposit and QuickDeposit, but withdrawal fees might start to add up. If you are near Chase ATMs, many are DepositFriendly, and you can deposit checks, as well cash, and then get an itemized receipt.

For the international traveler, using ATMs and your Visa debit card can be costly. Chase charges a $5 fee for ATM transactions abroad, in addition to a 3% fee for all transactions (including ATMs). Be sure to notify Chase that you are traveling, or your card can be declined. For those who do international travel, there are better options such as Ally ($1.50 ATM fee, 1% fees) or Capital One 360 (no fees), but Chase is comparable in foreign fees to other large banks (e.g., Citibank, $2 ATM, 3% fees; PNC, $5 ATM, 3% for transactions other than ATMs). This is another case where Credit Unions may be the way to go, as they charge fees comparable to Ally ($1.50, 1%).


Chase Total Account: Other Odds and Ends

Chase charges $34 per overdraft with a maximum of $102 fee per day. This is, again, comparable to other banks (e.g. Bank of America, $35; Citibank, $34), but the maximum daily fee is lower than those (Bank of America has a limit of $140 per day, and Citibank one of $136), perhaps as a result of the class action lawsuit regarding Chase overdrafts several years ago. Chase does offer Overdraft protection, which will transfer funds from a savings account for a $12 fee instead of the $34 fee. Debit cards can also be withdrawn, but only if you opt into Chase Debit Card Coverage; if you don’t opt in, your card will just be declined. Compared to other checking accounts (i.e., those geared toward students), Chase’s overdraft fees are transparent, and a bit lower than its competitors.

Wire transfer fees are comparable to other banks at $25-30 for outgoing domestic transfers, $15 for incoming.

Checks are not provided with this account, so in order to use Direct Deposit, you will have to order checks, or go into a branch to get a Direct Deposit form with a voided check (free).


Chase Total Account: Customer Service

Call wait times can be long, but not incomparable to other large institutions. Branch hours are variable, but can be open until 8pm (MI) and tellers encountered by this customer have been professional and personable.

Chase Total Checking Review Bottom Line

For those looking for a basic no-interest checking account, Chase Total Checking is perfect, from the online banking options to its numerous locations. For those who would be hit by the monthly fee, who would use their debit card and ATMs abroad, or who frequently withdraw from ATMs without Chase locations in their area, a better option would be a credit union (or local bank). But for those comparing the large national banks like Capital One, PNC, or Bank of America, Chase Total Checking is a smart, solid choice, especially if you wait for an opening bonus offer.

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